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Alumni Profile: Janani Ravikularam, Spring 2018

April 25, 2018
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This profile is part of a series exploring the impact of SFU Semester in Dialogue alumni on our local and global communities.

What semester/theme did you participate in?
Spring 2018—Health and Wellness: Complex, Not Just Complicated.

Tell us about one of your projects in the Semester and why it mattered to you? In what way did the project have a positive impact on the community?

Our cohort’s final public dialogue was on the topic of student mental health on campus—what is the current experience of it and how can we improve it going forward. It mattered to me because I think it exemplified what it means to meaningfully bring diverse voices together to dialogue about something we’re all connected to. I learned a great deal that day.

A couple of weeks after the dialogue, a friend told me about a devastating event that happened to an SFU student which potentially involved unaddressed mental health issues. She said how important events like our public dialogue are. This really contextualized for me the importance of continuing to have these conversations.

What was one highlight from the semester?
On the second and third days of class our faculty lead storytelling exercises, teaching us the skills of effective storytelling and its power to expedite trust building between people. Within a couple of days, our class shared quite vulnerable stories with one another which helped to establish a trusting and collaborative tone for the rest of the semester. It really changed the way I think about the importance of stories in creating meaningful connections in everyday life.

How do you plan to use what you learned in the Semester in Dialogue in your future career?
This semester affirmed my interest in policy’s role in reducing health inequities. This program allowed our cohort to engage in dialogue and community projects with really interesting people on a wide range of health issues. Connecting with them also continuously gave me a better sense of my own skills and interests, increasing my own clarity on who I am only continues to help me make sense of how I can contribute to the future of health care.

The semester also left me with a feeling of relief—that it’s okay not to know exactly what my future career is, and if there’s any optimal time to explore what that might be, it’s now.

What does receiving the den Haan Student Award mean to you?
I’m deeply grateful to have received the den Haan Family Student Award. To me, this means that SFU appreciates the role that experiential learning has on student lives and is willing to alleviate some financial pressures on students so that they can more fully engage in this learning. I extend my deep thanks to the den Haan Family and SFU for this support. 

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure